Joe Manchin is a long-time politician from West Virginia. His family has been involved in West Virginia politics for decades. His father and grandfather were both mayors of his hometown of Farmington. His uncle, A. James Manchin, was a state legislator, secretary of state and treasurer.

The younger Manchin's earlier prospects might have been headed in a different direction. He received a football scholarship from West Virginia University, but an injury ended his playing career. He eventually also went into politics. Currently, he's a member of the US Senate and it seems it will stay that way.

He had been mulling returning to state politics

Manchin was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 2010 as a Democrat. It was a testament to his popularity in the state. That year saw a massive Republican wave in the mid-term elections. West Virginia had been trending in that direction in its own right.

Manchin had been governor since 2005. He was re-elected in 2008 with roughly 70 percent of the vote.

The Senate race in West Virginia was a special election. It was to elect a full-time replacement for the controversial and powerful Senator Robert Byrd. Byrd had died earlier in the year. Manchin appointed Carte Goodwin to replace him. Manchin won additional Senate races in 2012 and 2018.

The key point in Manchin's popularity is his being a moderate, something increasingly rare in American politics.

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Democratic Party

As Slate notes, it has also made him a power-player in the Senate. Members from both parties have tended to grow more extreme recently. Often beyond that of the electorate at large. Manchin has been relied upon as a moderating force for Democrats.

But he has openly not enjoyed his time in the Senate. It's a far cry from when he was governor, which he called 'the best job in the world.' He had been considering returning to West Virginia to make another run for governor.

Current Governor Jim Justice was elected as a Democrat in 2016. Within months of beginning his term, he switched to the Republican Party. Manchin's wife, Gayle, served in Justice's Cabinet for a little over a year. She later departed amid questions that her department would be dissolved.

It couldn't be assumed that Manchin would've won his old job, despite his previous success. The state has grown increasingly supportive of Republicans.

Manchin has taken criticism from both sides. Some say he's too liberal for West Virginians and others say he's too conservative for Democrats. Axios reports that Manchin has often upset members of his party. An example is when he endorsed Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine for re-election earlier this year.

Manchin's been in politics since the early 1980s

Manchin served in the West Virginia House of Delegates from 1982 to 1984.

In 1986, he was elected to the West Virginia Senate. He remained a member for 10 years. In 1996, Manchin made his first attempt at the governorship. He lost in the Democratic primary to former state legislator Charlotte Pritt. Pritt lost in the general election to Republican Cecil H. Underwood, who'd previously won the governorship 40 years earlier.

Later, Manchin was elected secretary of state in 2000.

Four years later, he won the race for governor.

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